Episode Two: There Are No Words
He looked ridiculous when she found him; then again, the population of similarly ridiculously dressed men in the resort was quite numerous. Taking a deep breath and telling all secondary thoughts along with her common sense to shut up, Filia approached Xellos.
The purple haired trickster was sitting on a bench, apparently minding his own business, though for someone who was supposedly uninterested in his surroundings he had a certain observant air around him. His head turned this way and that way, looking at the couples that passed by holding hands. He might as well add holding hands to his list of tactics to be used later. He considered adding giggling like an idiot to the slowly developing list, but even the mortally cursed have their limits.
Knowing that she was being ignored, Filia spoke up, "can I sit?" She inquired with as much confidence as she could muster. She was ignored again, no surprise there. "I'm sitting." Filia took a seat on the bench next to Xellos, a short way away from the fountain with the cupid in the middle, surrounded by rose bushes. The bushes produced flowers in such a bright shade of hot pink one could only conclude they were fake, or that the gardener was an alchemist obsessed with the color pink. The leaves were a minty green rather than a regular leafy green so as to not upset the calm and romantic feeling of pastel colors, or for some other equally mushy reason.
The second Filia sat down, Xellos made a sudden motion jumping a little as the bench was pushed down on her side and flopped back to its normal position. "Geez, Filia, you're really packing on the pounds, aren't you?" He commented sarcastically.
Trying with all her might to keep her temper down, Filia scowled and pointed out truthfully. "You know as well as I do that you made the bench move. My weight had absolutely nothing to do with it. Then again," she had the daring audacity to pinch his arm as she spoke. "You're so scrawny, maybe you really are that light."
"Can't get your hands off me? I'm flattered," Xellos remarked. He was known for doing all sorts of silly things on occasion so really, the fact that he had changed into an attire like the kind they sold at the local shops wasn't a real shocker. He did look especially silly wearing a short sleeved purple shirt with many yellow flowers printed on it, a pair of red shorts and yellow flip-flops, his signature staff having been left behind at the guys' hotel room. "May I remind you that in your eagerness you destroyed my clothes last time."
Filia turned scarlet and looked in every direction to see if any of the passers care about their conversation... they didn't. Those people were strangers, her friends being no where in sight. Those people didn't know her or Xellos and they apparently didn't care about their antics. "About that," Filia resolutely pushed her voice to work. "I um..." was she seriously apologizing to Xellos? Well no, that was never her plan; she just wanted to let him know she didn't care about the incident. She wanted to show him that she got over it and moved on with her life. She wanted to act like she wasn't terribly ashamed, mortified beyond belief, which she was. But Xellos couldn't know, or else he would exploit it, then her friends would know and even if they claimed to understand she wasn't herself when it happened, Filia would still die of shame. She had to confidently show Xellos that his taunts wouldn't bother her, so that he wouldn't bother using them in the first place. "Sorry if you were bothered by it. I hope you're not traumatized, because I'm not. In fact, it's kind of a blur," it was a lie. Every moment was painfully clear to her.
"Really?" Xellos raised an eyebrow curiously. Filia was a horrible liar and he could see right through her. It probably came because she tended to be too honest and sincere. "I could tell you all about it, reenact it even."
"I don't care," Filia voiced flatly only because it was her most well rehearsed answer that she planned to give Xellos if he threatened for blackmail. Except he wasn't threatening for blackmail, he was offering her another make-out session. "I mean I do care, no, I mean I don't want to. Anyway, I'm just letting you know that the incident is completely unimportant to me."
"So you wouldn't mind if I tell Lina?" Xellos asked with a grin. He knew Filia was feeling particularly tortured right now, it was awesome. It was even more awesome because he was the cause of her misery.
"I don't mind, it honestly doesn't matter," Filia shifted uncomfortably and tried to look indifferent, as opposed to embarrassed. It wasn't working.
"What about Amelia?" Xellos pressed on. He wasn't willing to give up until he got a somewhat truthful reaction from Filia.
"It's the same," Filia choked out.
"Gourry?" Xellos continued.
"It might go over his head," Filia felt a little cruel for pointing that out, but it was true.
"Point taken," Xellos chirped, his usual grin well in place. "Zelgadis?"
"It doesn't matter if they know; it doesn't matter if they all know," Filia snapped. "In fact, it doesn't even matter if the whole world knows."
"That you made out with a monster?" Xellos supplied smugly.
"A kiss is not making out, it's just a kiss," Filia argued with a red face. Other than a few quick glances that avoided his eyes, she had not been looking at Xellos, but knew he was looking right at her.
"Just a kiss, huh?" Xellos pretended to muse over this. A kiss was certainly not just a kiss, it was the cure he needed. "I thought golden dragons had more self respect than that. So if a random guy wanted to kiss you, he could?"
"No!" Filia half-yelled. "That's not what I meant, I wasn't myself and you should have done something to stop me!"
"I teleported you away, didn't I?" Xellos reminded.
Filia opened her mouth to speak then promptly closed it again like a fish person and proceeded to mull over that information. Okay, so Xellos had made himself a little bit useful and she supposed that harming an innocent victim would have been worse than degrading herself with a monster, just because Filia could be selfless like that. Frustrated, Filia let out an exasperated breath. He won, Xellos won, he was going to win no matter what she did. Filia cursed her bad luck. "I can't stop you from humiliating me, can I? Fine, do it, I won't beg you not to!"
"If you really want me to," Xellos grinned annoyingly. "However..." he made a dramatic pause. "I might let your deplorable behavior pass if you do a little something for me."
"I won't do anything bad," Filia outright stated.
"I know, teaching you evil is not possible, you're not smart enough to learn it." Another pause later, Xellos continued, rather enjoying the foreboding expression Filia was wearing. "Kiss me," Filia was sober now, Xellos had to give this one last try.
"What?" Filia stammered, now staring right at Xellos out of pure shock.
"I think you heard me," Xellos stared back with a plotting look. "There is a condition though," of course there had to be. "I give you my word as a monster-"
"For what it's worth," Filia muttered bitterly.
Xellos ignored her, "that I'll keep this incident that happened between us a secret, if you give me your word as a golden dragon that you'll kiss me. Here's the catch-"
"It has to be done in a completely humiliating way," Filia supplied with rising anger.
"I wasn't going to say that, but if you keep giving me suggestions I might take them," Xellos warned. With his signature grin unchanged he finished his proposed deal. "The catch is that you must kiss me of your own will."
"That makes no sense," Filia blinked in surprise. "How can I kiss you of my own will if you're blackmailing me?"
"I'm not," Xellos tried to twist things around a little. "Let me rephrase my proposal." He mused over it for a second and came up with a slightly different deal to similar ends. "I give you my word not to reveal the incident to anyone and ask for nothing in exchange for my silence. Additionally, in a completely separate and unrelated matter, I request, not blackmail, order, or threaten," he specified, "that you keep your mind open to the possibility of kissing me when you are completely sober, with a firm grasp on all your senses and not being pressured into it by any outside force. In other words, consciously and of your own initiative, unaffected by any ulterior motives be them yours or mine."
Filia blinked dumbly and stared at Xellos as if he grew a second head. Actually, that wouldn't have been all that strange, his request, not threat, was far stranger. "Are you asking me to keep my mind open to the possibility of ever wanting to kiss you of my own accord?"
"Correct," Xellos confirmed. "I'm glad you finally got that single brain cell of yours working." So asking a girl to kiss him and then insulting her wasn't a very good tactic, but this was Xellos, he couldn't waste an opportunity to start an argument with Filia anymore than she could waste an opportunity to start an argument with him.
"That's suspicious," Filia honestly stated. "It's too easy and you never make things easy." Yet no matter how many times she went over it in her head, she couldn't figure out what Xellos wanted to do... Then it occurred to her. "Aha!" She pointed her accusatory finger at Xellos yet again. "I know what you're trying to do; you're trying to make me feel better so that the hit is harsher when you make me feel worse. You're trying to make me lower my guard!"
"Whatever you say, Filia," Xellos rolled his eyes. It was clear that Filia wasn't going to stop suspecting him any time soon and time wasn't exactly on his side. "Look, how's this then: let's drop the subject and leave things as they are. If I'm going to do something, you can't stop me anyway so there's no reason for you to worry about it. Then after you cool your temper, give my request some more thought."
Filia glared at Xellos with a great amount of distrust, "fine." She agreed, but only because she had no choice but to agree. She got up from the bench and as she did her stomach growled again.
"Don't tell me you really did go on a diet," Xellos tried to fall back into a comfortable pace of exchanging insults. "You're such a twig without a figure as it is."
"Oh shut up you piece of raw garbage!" Filia yelled. "First I'm too fat and then I'm too thin? Look in the mirror you reject circus clown!" She turned on her heals and threw her head back in indignation, walking off in a fuming huff. Of course, Xellos followed her and of course he had a comeback for her insult. Then they fell into a rhythm of insulting each other that felt almost normal.
xoxox xox xoxox
Taking a break from the activity of insulting Xellos, Filia made her way to a restaurant as the sun began to set. There she spotted Amelia and Zelgadis sitting at a table eating calmly and chatting pleasantly.
Feeling that she was given another chance to perform her good actions as a matchmaker, Filia sat down and observed them from afar from behind a menu. Unlike the open buffet this restaurant was indoors and far homier looking. It had waiters and waitresses on the job and required payments per dish consumed. Luckily, Filia had remembered to go pick up her wallet from her luggage. She had a job to do as a matchmaker, but she couldn't do it on an empty stomach.
A waiter approached with a notepad in hand. "What can I get you?" He paused and took a second look at the ridiculously dressed purple haired man. "You're one of Lina's friends." He pointed his pencil at Xellos.
Xellos gave the man a curious smirk, "Zangulus was it?" He pretended to be unsure, because no human's name was worth remembering all that clearly, yet Xellos made it a point to remember them all. "It's quite a surprise to see you here. How is Miss Martina?"
"Likewise," Zangulus decided that small talk would be acceptable enough. He had left in decently good terms with Lina's group, though he still very much considered Gourry to be his swordsmanship rival. "Martina's doing well; she's working here too, though at a different part of the resort. We've been working to save up and restore her kingdom. It's along road but we're getting somewhere." He glanced curiously at Filia, "I take it this lady is your date?"
Filia slammed her fist into the table breaking it. "No!" She bellowed.
Zangulus stared at the broken table in surprise as did a few people including Amelia and Zelgadis from a few tables away. The murmurs of conversations and the sound of silverware on plates heard at the restaurant were suddenly silenced so that the awkwardness could be more clearly perceptible. "Um... Let me show you to another table." Zangulus graciously saved the situation and the murmurs of conversations and the sounds of silverware on plates continued normally. That was save for the conversation previously being held by Amelia and Zelgadis who paused in their eating and talking along with everyone else, but didn't resume the activities after Zangulus' line.
Instead they stared as Zangulus showed Xellos and Filia to a different table, were they silently sat and were too far away to hear when Filia mumbled a barely audible, "sorry..."
Zangulus however, was at hearing distance. "Never mind, it's not a big deal, the table was obviously about to fall apart anyway." Because there was no way this girl could have caused it to break, at least not without magic. "Are you okay?"
"Yes," Filia automatically replied, though she felt that she was anything but.
"She's a bit possessive," Xellos stated with nonchalance. "My dear Filia always corrects people when they say I'm her date or her boyfriend, the proper term would be lover, right darling?" He winked.
Filia turned scarlet yet again, she had been doing that far too often in the past twenty-four hours and was starting to fear that it might begin to affect her circulation... or give her an anger fueled heart attack. She remembered her little conversation with Xellos before and realized that if he wanted to say something stupid no one could stop him, but no one had to believe him. In fact, she was sure that anyone who knew her wouldn't believe his nonsense, but Zangulus didn't know her. Rather than adamantly denying the so called accusation of being Xellos' lover, Filia allowed rage to take over and tried to throw him for a loop. "Actually," she regained her cool in an almost frightening manner. "I think fiance would be the proper term, honey."
Xellos' face twitched in surprise, but only slightly. For the most part, he managed to maintain his smiling expression. Then his smile grew in amusement. "Of course, you're absolutely right, sweetheart." It was as if words such as darling, honey, sweetheart and the like had become the worse possible insults.
There was something odd about the atmosphere between those two, but then again, Zangulus' beloved Martina wasn't exactly like other girls either. Who was he to judge Xellos' taste in women? He waited as Filia and Xellos engaged in a glaring contest with each other while pretending to read the menus, until they finally each ordered something. In Xellos case it was mostly for show really since monsters didn't need food the way humans and dragons did, but he could still consume it if he so felt like it and there were certain tastes he very much enjoyed, like popcorn, but that wasn't on the menu.
xoxox xox xoxox
By the time Zangulus returned with the food, Xellos and Filia had fallen into an unspoken truce, so that they could enjoy a meal focusing their mouths in eating rather than in speaking insults. By that time, Amelia and Zelgadis had also stopped staring and were finishing their food, once again conversing with each other. However, their topic had shifted considerably.
"I still say it's impossible," Zelgadis assured. The justice loving Amelia sometimes got some silly notions stuck in her head. At times Zelgadis thought it was noble or even sweet, but this time it was downright weird.
"Have hope, Mr. Zelgadis!" Amelia insisted cheerfully. "Maybe Mr. Xellos and Miss Filia really are getting along with each other." It's not like she was suggesting they were on a date or anything, just that they looked like they had become friends... sort of.
"Look at them glaring at each other!" Zelgadis insisted. "Then there was that broken table a while ago. Xellos must have said something that angered Filia. He seems to have a very annoying talent for angering people."
"At least he's trying to change," Amelia maintained her point. "He did invite us over here and we were able to do a lot of research in the library."
Zelgadis huffed, "you mean we wasted the day sorting through an endless supply of cheesy romance novels and," he blushed, "rather inappropriate books?"
Amelia blushed as well; browsing that particular section in the off chance that they might have missed something useful was a very embarrassing endeavor that Amelia would rather not think about. "It's still a nice vacation. Even if the library isn't useful, we can at least enjoy the rest of the resort, there's certainly a lot of variety. Tomorrow we should all go somewhere together, it'll be fun!"
Zelgadis wanted to point out that one of monsters' favorite pastimes was ruining fun, but he decided to remain quiet. Amelia was determined and Zelgadis knew he would be wasting his breath if he tried to change her mind. "Fine," he adopted a look of resignation. He would still be on guard though; Xellos was definitely plotting something, that much was obvious given the fact that he was Xellos.
"It's settled then," Amelia chimed happily. "I'll talk to Miss Lina and Miss Filia about it tonight and you can talk to Mr. Gourry and Mr. Xellos," she smiled. Tomorrow would surely be a lovely day; Amelia felt it in her heart.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 005: Fantastic! A Vivid Dreamscape
By the time Filia was done with dinner, Amelia and Zelgadis had already left the restaurant. It wasn't that Filia's appetite was anywhere near Lina's, she simply started her meal when Amelia and Zelgadis were almost done and was distracted by it long enough to miss their departure. With a full stomach, Filia noticed that it was already dark and she was certainly exhausted. Her matchmaking plans would just have to wait for another day. Hopefully whatever Xellos was planning would wait for many, many days, because she would seriously need a long time to recover from today.
Although they had paused their insults that pretended to be flirts, or was it flirts that pretended to be insults? The routine was resumed when Filia requested the bill and Zangulus handed it over to Xellos. The golden dragon had shrugged and held a tiny victory in watching him pay, though she was the one to provide a tip for Zangulus, because she knew Xellos wouldn't.
After leaving the restaurant, the silly insults did not go on, instead the pair walked in silence to the hotel, with Xellos occasionally glancing here and there as if studying the movement around him. In front of the hotel, Filia paused and asked the question that was floating on her mind. Given her already bad position, what could it hurt? "Does it feel bad?"
The question which was rather lacking in context and information, took Xellos by surprise and was addressed with nothing but a slight raise of the eyebrow.
"The atmosphere here, does it hurt you?" Filia once again proclaimed her curiosity. "I mean," she elaborated, "it's so full of love and happy thoughts, it must be unpleasant to you, since you're a monster."
"It is," Xellos admitted the obvious as it was of no use to deny it. "But I'm a very strong monster, you said that yourself." He alluded to something that was spoken during Filia's distressful time. He knew she didn't want to remember that, so he made a mental note to hint at it whenever he could. He would, however, keep the embarrassing secret between them, for the time being at least.
Filia only looked away as a response. She didn't know why she asked that question, the answer was obvious and it didn't matter anyway. Without another word she began to walk towards the stairs.
"Are all dragons rude enough to walk away in the middle of a conversation?" Xellos tried to get the insults rolling again, it was fun.
Filia gave him no response save for a glare, but decided that she wouldn't humor him. Xellos wanted to argue and though she would normally answer, Filia was simply too tired at the moment. She kept making her way up the stairs ignoring Xellos as he followed after her.
When she got to the girls' room, Filia retrieved her copy of the key from her pocket and made her way in. On one of the four beds, it was beyond her why so many beds per room were needed, there was a box with a note attached to it. Filia curiously picked it up and read it. 'Hey Filia! After Gourry and I got kicked out of the buffet's kitchen, I said I would sue them for false advertisement because it was supposed to be all you can eat. They offered me store credit if I didn't and since I don't know any lawyers anyway, I took it.' That would explain the pile of bags and boxes in the corner. 'This one is for you! Enjoy, Lina.' Filia thought it was sweet of Lina to have gotten her a gift, until she reached the foot of the note. 'PS: You can show your gratitude by taking me out to dinner sometime.'
Filia sighed, regardless of what Lina got her; it couldn't have been more expensive than taking her out to dinner would be. Even so, Filia tried to look on the bright side, it was the thought that counted and she really needed some optimism. She opened the box to find a cute little dress with yellow sunflowers on pale blue fabric and a pair of matching flip-flops. It was sleeveless and about knee length, going will with the resort's general atmosphere, though it wouldn't provide enough space under the skirt to hide her mace. She couldn't imagine Lina buying it, some random shop keeper probably forced it on her somehow. It must have been a dangerously fierce shop keeper, or maybe Lina decided to try to look extra cute and didn't want to make the effort alone. Maybe it was a good sign, maybe Gourry would compliment her and things would roll from there, but Filia knew she was getting ahead of herself.
Ignoring Xellos' still looming presence silently behind her, Filia noticed that there was another note on her bed. That second note was from Amelia, she must have come into the room and left again when Filia and Xellos were at the restaurant. She read the note with curiosity, wondering in the back of her mind if Amelia had seen her little table breaking display at the restaurant. 'Dear Miss Filia, I hope you are enjoying your time at this resort. Lina told me she purchased a dress for you, she got me one as well and suggested that we should all wear them tonight to go see the fireworks display from the central plaza. I think it's a wonderful idea and hope you'll join us. Also, we should all enjoy the resort together tomorrow, but we can talk about that later. Best wishes, Amelia.'
Relieved that the note didn't mention anything about the restaurant incident, Filia took another look at the dress. She was tired and not in the mood to stay out waiting for fireworks, yet she didn't want to disappoint her friends. She concluded that being tired wasn't a good enough reason to miss out on the fun; there would be plenty of time to sleep later. Besides, just because she was in the mood to hide under warm covers and sleep away her sorrows it didn't mean that she should. That was probably what Xellos wanted her to do and she wouldn't give him that.
She would go out and have fun, being filled with all kinds of positive emotions, especially the kind that bothered him most, whichever those were. She honestly didn't understand the source of her curiosity, but she decided that she had no reason to try to understand Xellos. He was a monster; he was evil, end of story. The notion didn't feel completely right, but she couldn't quite place why. Letting the matter drop in her mind, she turned to face Xellos with the dress in her hands. "Leave, I'm changing."
He didn't move and he didn't say anything. Filia knew this was Xellos' little revenge for being ignored earlier.
Crossing her arms Filia stated a valid, although from her perspective nonsensical, point. "If you want me to consider the thought of kissing you to be remotely passable, let me say that you're not making any progress by being a pest."
Xellos faded into nothingness without a word. There was something unnerving about how he silently agreed to leave her alone with relative ease, but Filia couldn't put her finger on it.
Filia changed as quickly as possible, fearing that Xellos would teleport back into the room at any random moment. Once she was wearing her new dress, she exited the room, locking it behind her. Downstairs she found Xellos, leaning casually against the wall at the foot of the steps. She walked past him without a word and he followed her.
The walk to the central plaza was not a long one, the bad news was that they couldn't make it to the plaza because it and the area around it was so terribly crowded. Who knew for how long some of those people had been waiting.
"Miss Filia!" Amelia waved for her attention, cheerfully making her way over to the familiar new arrivals. She was wearing a pink dress with red roses in a similar style to Filia's. Apparently Gourry and Zelgadis also received gifts from Lina in the form of the male attire that dominated the resort, very much like Xellos'. They were both wearing shorts, dark blue for Gourry and gray for Zelgadis, which were not as brightly colored as Xellos' red shorts, but their shirts were certainly just as festive. Gourry had jellyfish pictures all over his light blue shirt, while Zelgadis had the classic dark green palm tree patterns on a lighter green background. They were all wearing flip-flops.
Lina looked the most different in her orange and white checkered dress; she must have thought a flower pattern was going too far. She did however have a single white lily on her hair. "Glad you made it," Lina greeted casually, though with a hint of annoyance that was not directed at any of her companions, but rather at the crowd. "Unfortunately, we were too late and all the good spots are taken, as you probably already noticed." A crowd of that size was impossible to miss.
"That doesn't mean we can't still have a good time!" Amelia tried to maintain a cheery atmosphere. Xellos was not fond of her attitude.
The fireworks began, a fact that Lina's group was only aware of judging by the sound of the explosions in the distance and the atmosphere around the central plaza lighting up. They couldn't see the fireworks though, the numerous crowd was packed too tightly in front of them and there was just no way to see them. "What a rip off," Lina muttered as she scanned the area for a way to get a better view. "We might be able to see the fireworks from the top of the hotel, it's a bit further away, but it's close enough and we should have a clear view from up there." Without waiting for any opinions of different suggestions, Lina ran off in direction to the hotel. Gourry automatically followed her and soon the whole group trailed behind.
xoxox xox xoxox
A pleasant breeze was blowing that night, though it was imperceptible from the ground level due to the gathered crowd. From the hotel's roof there were no obstacles in the way. The group approached the railing at the edge of the roof terrace most of them automatically leaning on it luxuriously. Lights of many colors painted the skies in a beautiful display as the fireworks exploded brightly. For a moment they were all focused on the lights and peace reigned supreme among them. Then it ended all too soon.
As if hoping for more, the group stayed silent, looking at the sky, before they realized that they couldn't coax more fireworks out of thin air with their eyes. They resolved to go back to their rooms, heading down from the roof, men and women parting ways in the hall with a wide exchange of good nights and such well wishes. The resort's activities went on twenty-four seven, but this was only their first day there and after traveling all the way to the resort, a good night's sleep was in order to recover from the trip. Perhaps tomorrow they would stay out late enjoying the festivities.
xoxox xox xoxox
At the girls' room, the three had showered, changed, brushed their teeth and finished all the activities normally done before going to bed. "Where do you think we should go tomorrow?" Amelia inquired, reminding the others of her suggested plans.
Lina answered immediately, "the roller coasters! I spent today at the buffet, then finding something to buy with my store credit so I didn't have time to go on the roller coasters. I think that's something we can all enjoy," she grinned, clearly looking forward to it.
"I didn't really have time to look around either," Amelia admitted. "Unfortunately, the library here isn't as useful as Mr. Xellos made it sound. Mr. Zelgadis and I were not able to find any remotely useful clues towards his cure. At least we got the research out of the way just in case and maybe now that it's done, Mr. Zelgadis will be more open to enjoying the resort."
"Research, huh?" Lina grinned mischievously with the look of one who is about to tease her friends. "I thought you two were on a date."
Amelia blushed, "it wasn't like that, Miss Lina. We're just friends." There was something about the way she said it that hinted she would be more than happy if they were more, but she didn't really feel like discussing it. She could ask Lina about Gourry, but instead decided to bring the quiet Filia into the conversation. Filia had not said a single word for a while and Amelia didn't want her to feel left out. "What about you Miss Filia? Did you have fun today?"
No, she did not have fun today, but Filia couldn't very well say it so bluntly. "Kind of..." Seeing Amelia's somewhat disappointed and inquiring look she added more cheerfully. "I think tomorrow will be better, since we'll all be hanging out together." Which meant that Xellos might give someone else a little of his annoying attention and less to her... Or he could open his big mouth and try to embarrass her in front of everyone.
"You spent the day with Mr. Xellos, right?" Amelia encouraged Filia to elaborate.
"Not by choice!" Filia frowned. "He just kept following me," she crossed her arms and made it clear she didn't really want to talk about him.
"And that's why you destroyed his clothes?" Lina laughed, causing Filia to blush.
"Did Xellos say that?" The embarrassed golden dragon was about to come up with some sort of denial, but realized it might not even be necessary. The piece of knowledge Lina had about the day's events was incomplete and out of context.
"Yeah, he said you attacked him with your dragon claws and his shirt paid the price, but that he was otherwise okay. I ran into him at the store when he was shopping for a replacement," Lina explained.
"Then that outfit he was wearing, it was actually a gift from you too?" Filia confirmed. Never mind that Xellos could just materialize some new clothes for himself, being a high level monster. Oh no, that wouldn't serve to provide information to Lina about the incident, because even if it was incomplete information, Filia would get annoyed and possibly embarrased by it anyway and Xellos knew it.
Lina nodded, "yeah, I know Xellos is annoying, but I got something for everyone, so I figured, why not?"
Taking the opportunity to encourage peace and friendship Amelia added, "I think we should take this vacation as an opportunity to become closer friends, all of us, even Mr. Xellos."
Filia huffed, "like that's going to happen."
"C'mon, Miss Filia, you should keep an open mind about Mr. Xellos," Amelia smiled encouragingly.
The comment about keeping an open mind reminded Filia about Xellos' odd request. She still didn't understand what he was trying to accomplish. Letting out a breath, she decided to humor Amelia, "alright, I'll keep an open mind." She was just saying that really, she would have to be on her guard. "I'm very tired now, so if it's okay I'll be going to sleep."
The girls all decided that it was best to go to sleep. After exchanging good nights, they got comfortable on their beds and blew out the candles, letting sleep come.
xoxox xox xoxox
It was still night time when Xellos appeared in the room where Filia, Lina and Amelia still slept. He placed an odd gray cloud shaped candle with swirls of white and black in it on the night stand next to Filia's bed. He would continue his research if this didn't work, but if he could spare himself that, he would.
Xellos then placed some odd masks over Lina and Amelia's faces. The so called masks looked more like paper boats then anything else. He lit the candle, leaving Filia unprotected against its effects then took up the extra bed in the room, which happened to be next to Filia, Amelia was in the opposite corner and Lina snored loudly between the two girls behind the paper that stuck to her face even when she tossed and turned. Xellos closed his eyes and inhaled the scent of the candle, allowing sleep to overtake him.
xoxox xox xoxox
Filia found herself in a strange place. The skies were painted in the color of the sunset and a vast field of flowers spread out far until it faded into white sand with a calm ocean reaching out endlessly in the opposite direction. Filia breathed in the fresh air and stretched out her arms, the scene was absolutely beautiful. She didn't know where she was, but she didn't question it, she only enjoyed it. Had she stopped to think about it for a moment, she would have realized that this was a dream.
Xellos crash landed into Filia's dream several feet away, falling into a flowerbed. She seemed to remain unaware of his presence, entranced by the task of dipping her toes in the ocean. The purple haired monster lifted himself to a sitting position and examined his surroundings in horror. The scent of the candle should allow several people to share a dream and the current dreamscape was definitely Filia's. Xellos had heard that when humans are fond of each other they dream of each other. He knew for a fact that humans also tended to rely on dreams for a way to predict the future and be guided. Dragons were just as stupid as humans in his opinion, if not more, and humans were easy to manipulate. They tended to switch up cause and effect. Liking someone was a common reason to dream about them; therefore a dream about someone had to mean they liked them. Xellos was unsure if his curse could be broken in the dream world, but it was a possible shortcut worth exploring.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, in the real world, Lina turned over on her bed facing in Filia's direction. The light of the candle on the night stand woke her and she sleepily opened her eyes not quite all there. She didn't even notice the paper structure attached to her face as she softly blew on the odd candle that she had not noticed being there before. The candle wouldn't go out, so the sleepy Lina waved her hand, sending a small gust of wind at the candle. The candle was not blown out immediately, but it was knocked off the night stand.
The cloud shape shattered upon hitting the floor as if it was made of the most fragile glass. The flame flared then promptly died, letting out an invisible smoke that was trapped in the room to be breathed in only by Filia, Xellos and a certain unseen other. Reacting on automatic, Lina shot a freeze arrow of lesser potency at where the already extinguished flame should have been, then returned to sleep instantly, the consequences of her actions remaining completely unknown to her.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 006: Terrifying! In The Land of Nightmares
The calm sound of the ocean, the scent of the flowers, the oh so gentle breeze. The picturesque scene was only a dream, Filia's dream, but it was starting to get to Xellos. Taking a deep breath and immediately regretting it he coughed as a manifestation of his discomfort. For someone who was so temperamental when she was awake, Filia sure emanated fuzzy feelings in her sleep. It was time to change that. Xellos willed the dream to take a different shape. If he was going to motivate Filia to kiss him by eliminating the possibility of being embarrassed, after all, this was the privacy of her own mind as far as she knew, then he couldn't make the atmosphere too sinister. He couldn't leave it as it was either; it was just too nightmarish from his perspective. He willed the scene to change some more... then it happened.
What happened was not the change that Xellos had in mind, but a completely different one. The flowers all wilted and died, sure he was wishing for it in the back of his mind but he didn't will it, then the sea dried up. The scent of dead sea life, fish, jellyfish and the like, was left behind as the water evaporated. The grass withered, going from brown to gray, turning to ashes and Filia screamed. Zombified hands with bony fingers and ragged rotten skin popped out of the ground grabbing the terrified Filia. She had no time to fight back as she was dragged in, the sand beneath her feet turning into black quicksand.
"Filia!" Xellos called out as he rushed to her. He wanted to tone down the fluff, not turn the dream into a horror house.
"Xellos!" Filia's shrill scream wasn't one of accusatory anger, it was a desperate call for help. She was sinking fast, the sand up to her neck.
Xellos dived forward to grasp her outstretched hand as her head went below the quicksand. He managed to reach her hand and pulled with all his might. Filia's head reappeared above the sand as Xellos kept trying to pull her out. Her expression was contorted in pain and she was still mostly stuck, but Xellos wasn't about to give up. He couldn't sense it, but he knew it was there, the presence of another monster. What he didn't understand was why he was unable to sense it. Perhaps it was one of those weak monsters with a special power. The answer was in the back of his head, but he couldn't access the memory when he was so focused on something else.
Filia emerged from the sand up to her waist. She managed to pull her other arm free taking hold of Xellos to attempt to pull herself all the way out of the sand, which was certainly not like normal quicksand. "Why is this happening? Who's attacking us?" She asked frantically.
"I don't know," voicing the truth tasted sour for Xellos, knowing things was part of his job and he hated that he had been caught off guard. In hind sight he could almost see the entire plot unfolding, but it was too late.
More zombified hands with rotting flesh, that were far longer than any human arm would be, though they were vaguely shaped as such, popped out of the sand and took hold of Xellos. They pulled him back away from Filia, trying to force him to let her go. They somehow mustered the strength to drive him to his knees and drag him away. There was a force at work that severely weakened him.
The zombie hands finally succeeded in pulling Xellos and Filia apart, with Filia sinking into the sand and Xellos being left face first in it. The hands sunk back beneath the surface and everything was left in silence. Xellos lifted himself up with some difficulty. He had enough of this, and he knew what this was. The memory surfaced, he figured it out.
The source of his predicament was no doubt a dream eater. It was a very weak monster that even a human child could beat to a bloody puddle if the being decided to pick a fight. Some humans called them lesser imps. They were small and annoying creatures that could do virtually no harm by lack of power when people were awake. They created the illusion of might by entering people's dreams and praying on their fears. They were indeed so weak that it was no wonder Xellos missed the hidden presence in the room. The creature didn't know who it was messing with. Xellos focused on making himself wake up. He would go back to the real world by waking up and deliver a painful death to the being that dared to challenge him. Then he would go back to sleep and fulfill his experiment properly.
Xellos waited but nothing happened. He focused harder and a peculiar scent invaded his nose. He realized that the scent, which could only be perceived by monsters, was not an illusion originating from the dream. As he focused on waking up, he managed to connect to his real senses. He had no image to look at save for that of the dream since his eyes in the real world remained closed, but he could faintly feel the pillow and mattress under him and the covers over him. He could also smell the candle, but the scent was far too strong.
The feeling of a soft pillow was replaced by a pounding headache and the scent of the candle left his perception as he was dragged completely into the dream. The candle was actually a container with a very special liquid inside. The flame extracted the liquid releasing it into the air in small portions over a limited range. The container must be broken; it was the only real explanation. It was odd in itself since usually dream eaters are not too smart. He doubted that the creature would have the plotting skills to know how beneficial breaking the candle would be.
Xellos focused some more, he could only feel Filia's presence in the dream world, which meant that Amelia and Lina had not been dragged into it. Sitting on the sand, Xellos looked exasperated, his usually squinting eyes opening with a dangerous glare. He was trapped and the power he could use in the dream world was limited. The dream eater couldn't harm him or even Filia, but he could terrify her and maybe even traumatize her. That would certainly interfere with his plans. He hated the feeling of being weak, even if it was only a strange illusion. Dream eaters could take control of everything, leaving the consciousness of their victims to struggle. He would have to save Filia and the odds were already against him, since the power he had at his disposal was no where near the real level.
Well he might as well get started. He began walking through the ashes that were piled where the field of flowers had once been. He saw a dark shadow looming in the distance which was worth checking out. He attempted to teleport towards it to no avail. He tried levitating and it also refused to work. In the end he had to run through the ashes that were piled deeper and deeper with each step.
By the time Xellos reached the pillar of darkness he was waist deep in ashes. The darkness emerged from a hole in the ground that was pitch black. A few haunting wails were heard from it followed by a scream that echoed from deep within. Just as he thought, the tunnel must lead to Filia. The stupid dream eater could not know who Xellos was. He was giving him the standard treatment, allowing for the perception of hope that was scheduled to be crushed.
If only Xellos could make himself wake up this would be different, but he knew that after being overtaken by the spell of the candle this deeply he wouldn't be able to wake up by sheer will. He wished that something would wake him up from outside, a noise or something. Maybe Lina or Amelia would wake up in the middle of the night for a glass of water. They would see him and yell at him for sleeping in their room, maybe even throw a pillow or something harder. That would be his ticket out of this nightmare and the first thing he would do would be to kill that insolent dream eater.
Without further ado, Xellos dove into the pitch black hole. He knew this was all an illusion, he could focus on that, but Filia would probably give into her fear and give the dream eater more false power. Xellos' landing was harsh, but he knew the pain was an illusion, he was a high level monster, he wouldn't feel pain from a simple fall like that. He landed in a sort of puddle in the darkness.
Flaming torches suddenly lit up on their own as if marking a path through the deep cavern. It was then that Xellos realized he had landed in a puddle of blood and the dark red substance was sticking to him. "Seriously, why must all idiots use the same old gory sceneries?" He couldn't do much, but he could at least clean himself up. He stood and focused, the blood disappearing from his skin and clothes. He dashed into the tunnel following the torches. He knew he would find Filia, he was supposed to catch a glimpse at his so called prize right about now, those dream eater scenarios were far too predictable.
As he made his way deeper into the tunnels, they became dimmer with the torches on the black stone cavern walls being more far apart. He finally arrived at a set of large doors and with more effort than it should require if any of this was real, he pushed one of them open just enough to squeeze in.
The next room was of the same fashion as the rest of the cave, black stone was all over and it was dark, save for the eerie glow of a throne crafted from bones adorned with human-like skulls on the armrests and the top of the backrest. It looked very uncomfortable to sit on. Filia was sitting on the floor next to the throne with a distant lost expression. She had cuts and bruises all over, mixed with dirt and grime. She heard his steps and looked up, "Xellos?"
"Yes," he hurried towards her purposefully. "I know this sounds crazy, but all of this is a dream, or rather a nightmare."
It didn't look like Filia was really listening to him. She stood shakily and approached him. "Xellos?" She inquired again, stumbling forward to be caught by him. "The real one?"
Her question caught Xellos' attention, "what do you mean?" Was there a fake him running around? It wasn't an unusual tactic for a dream eater to use on a human. Create a false copy of an ally and have the copy commit some sort of evil action that makes the victim feel betrayed and hopeless. Then when the real one shows up, they will get the accusations and consequences. Humans were too easy to manipulate and sometimes the accusations of dreams evolved into real accusations. If only they could differentiate dreams from reality and prophetic dreams from stupid dreams the humans wouldn't be such easy pray... or the dragons in this case.
"He looks just like you, but I knew he wasn't the real you," Filia revealed. "When you took over the monster race I thought you changed, that you turned even worse than you were. Then I realized that it wasn't you. You're evil, but you're the kind of evil that finds amusement in his actions. The impostor, the one who calls himself the monster king is just cruel." A few tears escaped her. "It's strange; when I realized it and yelled that I knew he wasn't the real Xellos he got angry and left. I've been sitting here for a while, knowing that he would return to kill me. I can't believe their all dead," she sobbed. "Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Val-"
"That's a lie," Xellos interrupted before Filia could finish listing off the names. "Whatever background you're provided with your weak subconscious accepts it, but it's a lie. Think of the details, of the specifics. Don't think of an explanation that makes sense, try to remember it rather than find the logic in it. This is all an illusion!"
"I'd like to think that," Filia sobbed. "Where have you been? Where you frozen like some of the monsters who opposed the new rule? Did you just escape?"
Xellos knew that he wasn't getting anywhere fast and the dream eater probably wouldn't give him much more time to talk to Filia. "Don't resist, relax, leave your mind at a blank and don't do anything. Close your eyes and just breathe." She didn't know why she was doing it, but Filia did as she was told. "You can look now."
Perplexed as to what Xellos meant, Filia examined her surroundings which were all just the same. Then she looked down at her clothes. Rather than wearing dirty rags, her clothes were fully repaired and perfectly clean. She had no cuts or bruises what so ever. "How did you heal me? You even fixed my clothes, how is that possible?"
"Since this is a dream I can influence you," and she could influence him, but Xellos decided not to point that out. "You were attacked by a dream eater," okay time to pretend to be gallant, it might benefit him in the long run. "I came here to save you, risking my own life!" He added in a lower tone, "and sanity..."
Filia only stared at Xellos unsure, she looked as if the phrase 'dream eater' stirred up some memories but they were so deeply buried that she couldn't immediately drag them out.
The scene was interrupted by the appearance of the dream eater, teleporting into a sitting position on the bony throne in Xellos' appearance. The appearance decayed to a rotten zombie version of Xellos with glowing red eyes. "You're so well informed, human; could you be a dream guardian?"
Xellos seriously considered smacking his face with his palm at this point in disbelief of the dream eater's stupidity. However, he decided against the action as it would probably mitigate the effect of the deadly glare he was giving that lowly monster. He didn't realize zombies could sweat, not that it was a real zombie anyway.
"What's he talking about?" Filia inquired in confusion. She was beginning to get used to the idea of this being a dream by trying to remember, not explain, how the chain of events took place which ended up with that Xellos look alike taking over the world and not even having the mercy to put her out of her misery instead keeping her as his personal slave. It was her worse nightmare, but it didn't feel so real once she realized that the finer points of the so called happenings didn't make sense. Besides, she vaguely remembered hearing about what a dream eater was, though she wasn't too clear on it.
"A long time ago, the dream eaters wrecked havoc among humans," Xellos explained. "They have no real power and they're rather stupid. They invade people's dreams and take on the form of their worse nightmare, information that people unwillingly project when they show extreme fear in a subconscious state. The humans considered the dream eaters to be dangerous because they could drive a person into madness. However, they eventually discovered that their attacks were purely psychological and that they had no physical power what so ever. Once they conquered the psychological attacks by holding on to the idea that dreams are not real, a turning point was reached."
The zombie Xellos twitched. He didn't like where the conversation was going. He thought he was in trouble and he didn't even know the half of it. He was still unaware of the fact that Xellos was a very pissed off high level monster that would painfully kill him when he got out of this.
Xellos concluded his explanation, "once the humans figured out how to beat the dream eaters, a few were trained in such techniques and used a special scent that only monsters can smell, though it is nonetheless effective on any creature, humans and dragons included. Those who inhaled the invisible miasma would share a dream, thus the dream guardians could protect others from the dream eaters until the actual dream eaters were found in the real world and exterminated. Humans got the hang of it and drove them to extinction, or so it was said. As it sometimes happens when it is thought there isn't a single specimen of something left, it turns out that there might be a few left after all." It was his understanding that the last dream eater was kept in suspended animation in the private collection of a certain someone. It was very suspicious indeed. Xellos doubted that it would be likely that the creature actually escape. He assumed that this was a different one entirely and that there were more than one left after all, though not for long. He would still keep his mind open to the possibility that the creature had been set loose on purpose, though it seemed unlikely.
Filia nodded at the explanation, remembering when she heard about it during her education when she was little. "Human, you really are a dream guardian!" The dream eater gasped.
Xellos felt his eye twitch in annoyance at being called a human. He in turn answered with the more degrading name later given to the dream eaters, "lesser imp," a mere imp, an annoyance more so than a threat and the least significant of them all. "You will die a very painful death! Seek him, Filia!"
"What?!" Filia glared fiercely at Xellos. Okay, so she was dreaming, she wrapped her mind around that idea already. Even in her dream Xellos was just as annoying, but not even in her dreams could she forgive him. "I'm not a dog!" She made a giant mace about three times her size materialize in her hands and smashed it into Xellos' head, pleased that when she lifted it he was stamped into the floor and having some difficulty getting up. At least he seemed to be significantly less powerful in her dreams.
Xellos muttered something angry and possibly too offensive to fit in the PG-13 category. Because of that stupid lesser imp he couldn't fully influence Filia's dream beyond a few small details, not until the imp let go of it and Filia was the only one who could make him do that. Being the primary dreamer in the equation, only Filia could defeat the imp from the dream world. Though that wouldn't kill him, Xellos would take care of that when he woke up.
"If this is my dream it's about time I took control of it! March forward my friends!" An army of adorable fuzzy kittens and bunnies appeared out of thin air and attacked the dream eater. Xellos backed away horrified, Filia's mind was a very scary place, not that he would ever admit that to her. Another thing he would never admit was that he kind of thought that evil sounding "mwahahaha" laugh of sweet revenge she was doing was almost worthy of a monster.
To be Continued